Military Review

Is Myanmar Panama today? ..

32
Is Myanmar Panama today? ..

One hundred years later ...



At the beginning of the twentieth century, in order to build "its" Panama Canal, the United States separated the Panama region from Colombia. But with the Kra Isthmus (on the map it is higher than the uppermost Thai jumper), this is unlikely to happen: this cannot be allowed by communist China ...

The recent military coup in Myanmar (The coup everyone knew about) is not without reason regarded in the West as a factor in the further strengthening of Beijing's influence in this country. But such an assessment is very “flawed” for a number of reasons.

Among other things, and because "aggressive" China has long initiated and, in addition, plans to finance the construction of a shipping canal between the Pacific and Indian oceans. It can pass through the Kra Isthmus in the south of Myanmar or in the borderlands of Myanmar and Thailand.

By the way, we cannot exclude the implementation of two projects at once. So far, a specific route has not yet been chosen, but the scales after the coup in Myanmar are tilted, oddly enough, in favor of the project through this country. Stability, albeit with guns in hand, clearly attracts investors like the Chinese.

And 250 years ago


The project is already at least 250 years old: it was first developed by the French engineer de Lamar in 1677-1678 ... But interest in the project became real only when the Strait of Malacca became really crowded.


Driving the courts around half of Indonesia is, you see, not a business. China already has, for example, an oil and gas pipeline in Myanmar since the early 2010s.

It is through these arteries that not only Burmese, but also Middle Eastern raw materials are still supplied to the PRC from the seaports of Myanmar (Between the United States and China: why Myanmar has become a field of competition between powers?).

Also, the PRC has its terminals in this country on the coast of the Indian Ocean.


The construction of the "trans-Burmese" canal will all the more strengthen Beijing's position not only in Myanmar, but also in the Indian Ocean basin. Especially taking into account Beijing's planned construction of a railway through Myanmar - to the ports of Chittagong and Cox's Bazar in the east of Bangladesh, located near the border of this country with Myanmar.

All this hardly meets the interests of the United States and the West as a whole. In mid-June 2017, a Sino-Thai intergovernmental agreement was signed to finalize the project of an interoceanic shipping channel across the narrow Kra Isthmus near the Thai-Myanmar border.

By agreement? By agreement!


At the same time, there is a similar agreement between the PRC and Myanmar in the early 1980s, providing for the creation of this artery mainly through the territory of this country. Up to 80% of the total financing for the implementation of projects is planned at the expense of state and commercial investments of the PRC.

Under the military authorities in Myanmar, who ruled the country in the 1960s and early 2010s, it turned into the most important political and economic outpost of the PRC. The same authorities refused the participation of the West in the finalization and implementation of the channel's project, preferring to actively cooperate with the PRC in such a project.

It seems that it was this factor, and not the “chronic usurpation” of power by the Myanmar military, that became the root cause of the sanctions imposed in 2003-2005. against it, the United States and other NATO countries, as well as the UN. In 2012-2014 the sanctions were lifted due to the restoration of civilian state institutions in the country and, accordingly, parliamentary democracy.

The coming of the military to power in Myanmar in February 2021 is regarded in the West as the return of the country under the "tutelage" of the PRC. This, in turn, may lead to the implementation of the "pro-Chinese" project of the Kra-Canal - that is, precisely through Myanmar.

Only sanctions, nothing personal


According to available information, the Sino-Myanmar commission on this project resumed its work in January this year. It is characteristic in this regard that US President Joe Biden, and in parallel with him the prime ministers of Great Britain and Canada, recently announced the renewal of sanctions against Myanmar.

If we take a closer look at the canal project, the routes through the Kra will cut the route between the Pacific and Indian oceans by at least half and thereby radically change the geography of transcontinental cargo flows to the Asia-Pacific region.

The rapid growth of international freight traffic through the straits and seas of Southeast Asia requires the creation of at least two parallel routes across the mentioned isthmus.

The traditional one - a bypass sea route through the Indonesian, Malaysian straits and Singapore - is already struggling to cope with the growing cargo flow. Meanwhile, the aggregate investment cost of both channel options remains quite significant.

At the same time, the Myanmar option, unlike the Thai one, is still slightly cheaper - respectively, about $ 17,5 billion against $ 18-18,5 billion, according to the estimates of ASEAN and APEC experts. The capacity of these channels is projected at 31-35 thousand ships per year.

Malaysia doesn't mind either


There is also a Malaysian canal project - near the Thai border in North Malaysia. But this option is one third longer and almost as much more expensive in terms of construction costs in comparison with the mentioned options.

Here is the view of Pakdi Tanapura, executive director of the economic section of the Thailand-China Association for Culture and Economics:

“The canals across the Kra Isthmus will shorten the sea route from the APR, including from Southeast Asia to Europe and Africa, instead of passing through the Malacca and neighboring straits by 1100-1300 km; will save for carriers 48-64 hours on transportation of goods ”.

“This is followed by the related benefits of such projects: for example, the reduction of fuel and lubricant consumption by ships. As well as a 25 percent drop in interoceanic freight rates in the area. "

In the meantime, the rivalry between Yangon and Bangkok over these projects is becoming more intense. It comes to the point that the authorities of Myanmar periodically support the Thai Maoist-Stalinist Communist Party.

It is well known that its guerrilla groups are actively operating not far from a possible Thai route (Red guerrillas in the land of the White Elephant).

Under the tutelage of Beijing


The Thai option is about 160 km in the southern, widest part of the isthmus (near the Thai-Malaysian border) towards the Gulf of Thailand. This pipeline includes the construction of a parallel oil pipeline.

And the Myanmar project is the shortest route between the Indian and Pacific Oceans: no more than 70 km in the north of the isthmus and without a parallel oil pipeline. However, the section of the land border of Myanmar with Thailand does not directly enter the waters of Southeast Asia in the Gulf of Thailand.


Therefore, an approximately 20 km extension of this route will be required in the neighboring region of Thailand. But it is the Myanmar project that will allow the ships along the shortest route and at lower costs than the purely Thai option, to ply in the waters of South China / Hong Kong-Vietnam-Indian Ocean.

Such a project was developed back in the former Burma, which has been called Myanmar since 1989. Moreover, it was developed with the help of the USSR in the late 1950s. But the project was not implemented due to the deterioration of political relations between the countries.

Almost immediately, by the mid-60s, Beijing took over the political and economic "tutelage" over Myanmar of the last century. With the simultaneous support of the local guerrilla communist party, similar to the Thai one. In order, if necessary, to achieve greater "obedience" to the Burmese military authorities.

Hydraulic similarity


Meanwhile, the situation in the region is such that Beijing has to maneuver between Myanmar and Thailand. Both the political and economic influence of the PRC in Myanmar is more significant than in Thailand, therefore, as reported by the media in Thailand and Taiwan in the mid-2010s, the Chinese side chose the option through Myanmar.

Beijing is periodically persuading Bangkok to agree to a 20-kilometer stretch in the Thai part of the Krai included in that option. At the same time, according to Taiwanese expert Leung Wei,

“The growing trade flow between the Asia-Pacific region and the countries of the Indian Ocean basin requires the creation of two parallel routes on the Kra isthmus. Since its geographical narrowing in the Thai and especially in the Myanmar sectors does not allow the creation of one wide waterway. "

The channels themselves on the Kra, the expert notes,

"In their geographic, hydro and other technical conditions will be similar to the Panama Canal."

But the similarity here in all respects - not only hydraulic engineering? ..
Author:
Photos used:
picabu.ru, odessadaily.ua, Business-Standard.com, stringer-news.com
32 comments
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  1. Destiny
    Destiny 1 March 2021 18: 19
    +12
    Well, here China will push through and dig, it is difficult to doubt the success of the project. By the way, I remembered the Panama Canal 2 project, which they wanted to dig through Nicaragua. There the case died out.
    1. credo
      credo 1 March 2021 18: 25
      +4
      Quote: Destiny
      Well, here China will push through and dig, it is difficult to doubt the success of the project. By the way, I remembered the Panama Canal 2 project, which they wanted to dig through Nicaragua. There the case died out.

      While the point is, it’s easier for China, perhaps, to build railways through Burma, in addition to gas and oil pipelines, and send goods to (from) Europe (s) through the port facilities of Burma.
      1. Flooding
        Flooding 1 March 2021 18: 58
        +7
        Quote: credo
        While the point is, it’s easier for China, perhaps, to build railways through Burma, in addition to gas and oil pipelines, and send goods to (from) Europe (s) through the port facilities of Burma.

        What is the benefit? There will be no winnings either in terms of delivery time or in price.
        Benefiting Myanmar? No doubt about it. But China will only suffer losses from this.
        1. credo
          credo 1 March 2021 19: 19
          +3
          Quote: Flood
          Quote: credo
          While the point is, it’s easier for China, perhaps, to build railways through Burma, in addition to gas and oil pipelines, and send goods to (from) Europe (s) through the port facilities of Burma.

          What is the benefit? There will be no winnings either in terms of delivery time or in price.
          Benefiting Myanmar? No doubt about it. But China will only suffer losses from this.

          Such a categorical answer at least requires clarification.
          Judging by the map, a detour by sea from the coast of China to the coast of Myanmar, taking into account the passage along a narrow neck off Singapore, is also worth it in days and money.
          Can you substantiate your statements in numbers?
          1. Flooding
            Flooding 1 March 2021 19: 49
            +3
            Quote: credo
            Such a categorical answer at least requires clarification.
            Judging by the map, a detour by sea from the coast of China to the coast of Myanmar, taking into account the passage along a narrow neck off Singapore, is also worth it in days and money.
            Can you substantiate your statements in numbers?

            with figures can be justified only by knowing the current tariffs. I don't own them.
            offhand:
            different track gauges, different types of wagons
            it is necessary to connect roads and install transshipment terminals
            As a result, the seller will be able to send goods to Myanmar with double transshipment (wagon / wagon, wagon / ship).
            Obviously, this affects the price of railroad. transportation. Limits the list of goods for this route.
            Further questions arise:
            What is the qualitative and quantitative state of Myanmar's wagon fleet?
            What is the state of Myanmar port logistics?
            The answer is simple: investments are needed in railways, in border terminals, in wagons of 1000 mm gauge, in port infrastructure.
            for these investments to pay off and reach profitability, it is necessary to provide a very decent constant volume of goods

            and in the end, all this to do in order to withdraw Chinese goods from Chinese ports.
            1. credo
              credo 1 March 2021 20: 05
              +3
              Quote: Flood
              and in the end, all this to do in order to withdraw Chinese goods from Chinese ports.

              I understand that you are proceeding from certain assumptions and nothing more.
              Following the example of Russia:
              - the track gauge can be made the same if both parties have an interest in this (example of the former republics of the USSR),
              - you can drive your own car fleet, sell or lease it to Myanmar,
              - when loading a wagon in China and transshipping cargo in the port of Myanmar, there will be no double transshipment,
              - port facilities in Myanmar can be bought or rented.

              Well, as for investments, here, as with the channel, you need to count with a calculator and take into account the fact that the channel will pass through Thailand and Myanmar, and therefore will depend on the situation in two countries where it is easier for the Anglo-Saxons to deploy than in one.
              1. Flooding
                Flooding 1 March 2021 20: 18
                +5
                Quote: credo
                - the track gauge can be made the same if both parties have an interest in this (example of the former republics of the USSR)

                across all of Myanmar? multi-billion dollar construction project
                Quote: credo
                the fleet of wagons can be driven, sold or leased to Myanmar

                of course not. different gauge - different cars.
                Quote: credo
                when loading a wagon in China and reloading cargo in the port of Myanmar, there will be no double transshipment,

                only if you donate a railway to Myanmar. track 1435mm
                Quote: credo
                port facilities in Myanmar can be bought or rented.

                have you ever been to a port?
                the port is a huge complex of berths, terminals, railways. paths, etc.
                terminals are quite strictly specialized (contacts, chemistry, grain, oil industry, coal, etc.)
                and, of course, in order to leave the modern Chinese port, it is necessary to ensure the appropriate quality of services in Myanmar.
                rather than just renting old space.
                Quote: credo
                I understand that you are proceeding from certain assumptions and no more

                and his many years of experience in this field
      2. businessv
        businessv 1 March 2021 19: 34
        +4
        Quote: credo
        build railways through Burma, in addition to gas and oil pipelines, and send goods to / from Europe (s) through Burma's port facilities.
        Here, after all, it is not only the PRC's interest in this project, but also in attracting other countries to use this route, which will make them dependent on the Celestial Empire. And railway transport, with the developed port infrastructure of China, will not fully meet the requirements for logistics.
      3. sleeve
        sleeve 2 March 2021 06: 01
        +1
        Right. The win is trifling. And construction is problematic both in politics and in engineering.
    2. Flooding
      Flooding 1 March 2021 19: 02
      +8
      Quote: Destiny
      By the way, I remembered the Panama Canal 2 project, which they wanted to dig through Nicaragua

      And it is unlikely that it will be reanimated.
      The project is expensive and the environmental risks are high.
      Most likely the second sleeve will be laid in Panama. So far, no one has the strength to aim at such a project in the zone of direct US influence.
    3. sleeve
      sleeve 2 March 2021 05: 59
      +1
      We figured out the likelihood of not keeping the structure under control. Or run into the maximum resistance of the "hegemon". Well, they forgot. There is no joke with such projects without free competition. Expensive...
  2. TermNachTer
    TermNachTer 1 March 2021 19: 32
    +6
    Quite reasonable considering how busy the Strait of Malacca is. And if we take into account the naval component, through this channel, China will be able to very quickly transfer its ships to the Indian Ocean, then the channel is very important for China.
    1. iouris
      iouris 1 March 2021 19: 48
      +2
      And the military can arrange a strait for them. Comrade C with your own methods.
      1. TermNachTer
        TermNachTer 1 March 2021 23: 41
        +1
        Is it worth spending a special warhead on this? with modern construction methods and Chinese rates, they will cope in a couple of years)))
  3. tihonmarine
    tihonmarine 1 March 2021 19: 59
    +6
    It seems that it was this factor, and not the “chronic usurpation” of power by the Myanmar military, that became the root cause of the sanctions imposed in 2003-2005. against it, the United States and other NATO countries, as well as the UN.
    And the introduction of these sanctions against Myanmar only brought it closer to China. Now it can be seen in reality.
  4. Avior
    Avior 1 March 2021 20: 21
    +6
    the author has stuck a lot of things in the text, only in the article one can only guess where this channel will pass.
    Not only is it only from the second half of the article that one can find out that the channel will pass not through Myanmar, but through Myanmar and Thailand, but for some reason he dragged the States, instead of directly writing, how Thailand relates to the fact that the channel is purely Thai it is proposed to be made international with a minimum share of Thailand's income. Judging by the written, bad attitude.
    judging by what was written, the channel will run like this

    something is not visible from the map, that there is the narrowest place - on the border is clearly narrower, and the fact that this place is convenient for the movement of ships - clearly on the border of Thailand and Myanmar is more convenient.
    1. TermNachTer
      TermNachTer 1 March 2021 23: 43
      +1
      So Malaysia, not a poor country at all, can participate financially. And most importantly, then not only China will be interested in the channel.
      1. Avior
        Avior 2 March 2021 00: 33
        +1
        I'm not sure Malaysia is interested, let alone Singapore.
        The stream of ships will pass them by
        All channels actually drawn on the map are Thailand, and the main profit from construction will come from Malaysia and Singapore.
        Malaysia will only join if it is sure that they will build it without it.
        1. TermNachTer
          TermNachTer 2 March 2021 11: 00
          +1
          Singapore - definitely. And Malaysia, if a part of the channel passes through its territory and it gets some preferences, I think they will grab it with both hands.
          1. Avior
            Avior 2 March 2021 11: 28
            +2
            I don't see on any project that a canal went through Malaysia.
            if it does, then an insignificant part
            1. TermNachTer
              TermNachTer 2 March 2021 11: 29
              +2
              I think that 20 meters will be enough, across the territory of Malaysia))) there is no final version yet.
              1. Avior
                Avior 2 March 2021 11: 31
                +2
                Thailand will not split the profit in half, I think
                1. TermNachTer
                  TermNachTer 2 March 2021 11: 33
                  +1
                  The main profit will be from the Chinese, the rest will get scraps)))
  5. Aviator_
    Aviator_ 1 March 2021 20: 29
    0
    Hire the Sumerians, and they will make a canal anywhere with shovels in six months, and even increase Everest by a couple of kilometers. This is in compensation for the failed purchase project of Motor Sich
  6. Artashes
    Artashes 1 March 2021 22: 47
    +2
    On the "western" maps, the option through Burma was almost never indicated. Which is not surprising (for it is economically and especially politically beneficial NOT for the West). The imposition of the "pro-Soviet socialist orientation" by the Khrushchevs on Burma led ... to the departure of Burma to the PRC. And the defamation of Stalin (and soon the leadership of the Communist Party of China) by Khrushchev and the last ... led to the departure of the Burmese - the largest Communist Party - also to China. As well as the Communist Parties of almost ALL countries of Southeast Asia and foreign Asia - to China. Etc...
    1. Avior
      Avior 2 March 2021 00: 35
      +1
      but can you draw so that only through "Burma"? Why would anyone lead across 2 countries?
  7. Bogatyrev
    Bogatyrev 2 March 2021 00: 36
    +1
    Quote: Flood
    What is the benefit? There will be no winnings either in terms of delivery time or in price.

    There is one non-obvious point. What is the advantage of the location of Singapore? Why is this a very important commercial port?
    Because it cannot be bypassed.
    The emergence of alternative routes will allow the Chinese to develop their ports, earn money on their own, and, in addition, will sharply reduce the influence of the West on the control of trade flows through the Sunda Strait.
    1. Usher
      Usher 2 March 2021 02: 33
      0
      Quote: Bogatyrev
      Quote: Flood
      What is the benefit? There will be no winnings either in terms of delivery time or in price.

      There is one non-obvious point. What is the advantage of the location of Singapore? Why is this a very important commercial port?
      Because it cannot be bypassed.
      The emergence of alternative routes will allow the Chinese to develop their ports, earn money on their own, and, in addition, will sharply reduce the influence of the West on the control of trade flows through the Sunda Strait.

      you can get around, just do not go to the port and that's it. What is the problem?
  8. Usher
    Usher 2 March 2021 02: 32
    0
    In general, there is no point in this channel, no. There is no win. A day at most to spend trillions of dollars for this?
  9. Jacket in stock
    Jacket in stock 2 March 2021 08: 59
    +2
    The profit from the channel is incomprehensible to the carriers.
    Well, yes, 2 days of travel, is it expensive?
    Is that the straits have become completely cramped and they stupidly cannot cope.
    But would shipowners be willing to pay canal tolls for such meager savings? This is far from Panama to go around for weeks.
    Accordingly, for diggers, you cannot ask for a large bribe from ships, the profitability of the venture is questionable.
    There remains only a question of politics, but by no means by Thailand, and they are not the best friends with China.
  10. Bogatyrev
    Bogatyrev 2 March 2021 11: 39
    +2
    Quote: Usher
    you can get around, just do not go to the port and that's it. What is the problem?

    )))))))
    Well done, made me laugh, brother)))))
    Everything is allowed. But you don't need to. The point is that you cannot order a business. If there is a convenient logistics hub with infrastructure on the route, such as Singapore, it will develop on its own because it is profitable. And nothing can be done here ... unless you build an alternative node. What the Chinese will do on this channel. And what did we do near St. Petersburg so that the evil Balts were left without a margin on transit cargo.
    There will be no financial benefit here, but there will be a colossal geopolitical benefit, and already from it financial. And huge in size. The Chinese understand something about strategy.
  11. Nick1916
    Nick1916 3 March 2021 10: 33
    0
    I would like to ask the author how Myanmar itself can implement this project? I see that there is no way. Well, there is no exit from the territory of Myanmar to the Gulf of Thailand ...
    There are only two options for construction, one completely through the territory of Thailand, the second through Myanmar and Thailand.
    This is a Thai project